Took me about 20 minutes to settle into this, because it feels so removed from what has become Winding-Refn’s identifiable style. Pusher is mostly free of highly composed visual fetishism, instead consisting of high-flying handheld work, reminiscent of Sam Fuller’s Street of No Return in its free flowing whip pans.
Once I got over my initial confusion, however, I was able to see Pusher‘s place in the Refn canon. Like Bronson, Drive, and Only God Forgives, Pusher is concerned with self-destryctive masculinity and the ways criminality feeds this psychosis. Where his later films are obsessed with the big showdowns and explosions, however, Pusher is about the mundanity. It finds power by slowly, ever so slowly, turning the screw, one minuscule moment after another, shrug upon shrug gradually hurting its closed-off protagonist.
The Killing of a Banal Bookie, almost.
Shout out to a young Mads Mikkelsen, who spends most of his screen time bragging about his cock.